An off-duty New York City corrections officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of an 18-year-old in the Bronx, authorities said.
The NYPD said in a statement that a little after 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, police responded to a report of a shooting and found an 18-year-old unconscious with a gunshot wound to the face. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died, police said.
He was identified by police as Raymond Chaluisant.
Dion Middleton, a 45-year-old corrections officer, was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon in Chaluisant’s killing, the NYPD said.
Police said Middleton was off-duty at the time of the shooting.
“These very serious charges are in no way a reflection of the officers who work to keep our city safe every day,” Louis Molina, commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, said in a statement Friday to CBS New York. “This officer will be immediately suspended without pay, and if the charges are true he will face the full consequences of the law and be terminated.”
Police said a toy gun that shoots water-filled gel beads was found near the shooting scene. It was not clear whether Chaluisant had fired the toy, called a gel blaster or bead blaster.
Benny Boscio, president the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the union that represents Middleton, said in a statement that Middleton fired a single shot after feeling something hit him in the back. He said the officer “felt his life was in immediate danger.”
Boscio said toy guns that don’t look like toys “remain an ongoing threat to public safety.” He added, “We will provide Officer Middleton with the best possible representation to ensure that his legal rights are protected.”
Middleton was arraigned on Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. His bail was set at $1 million. James said Middleton is accused of shooting at a car in which Chaluisant was a passenger, adding that he allegedly left the scene of the shooting and went to work later in the morning, where he was taken into custody by the NYPD.
“My office is committed to a thorough and transparent investigation of every case where an officer of the law may have caused a death,” James said. “I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Chaluisant, and the people of New York have my pledge that we will work to see that justice is served.”
On Thursday afternoon, the NYPD tweeted out a warning about using bead blasters, referring to them as equivalent to an “air rifle.”
“Bead Blasters shoot gel water beads propelled by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle,” the NYPD wrote. “Air rifles are a violation in NYC & are unlawful to possess.”